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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

'Lonely planet' Najib Razak shunned as Umno warlords huddle for a successor

Sulaiman Kamal | 1:27 AM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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These days, Najib Razak is a lonely soul in the UMNO circles. The warlord are all busy drawing lines of engagement and none have included him in their plans. Not the ones that matter anyway. Sadly, Najib may only be left with wife Rosmah Mansor as his companion. Even his cousin Hishamuddin seems to have deserted him.
The 58-year old Najib may well make it into the Malaysian Book of Records as being the premier with the shortest term in office and on top of that, the only Prime Minister who has yet to receive the people’s mandate via a general election.
"He is now in a very weakened state, weaker even than Abdullah Badawi towards the end. There aren't many successors, only his deputy Muhyiddin and very likely Tengku Razaleigh," PAS leader Dzulkefly Ahmad told Malaysia Chronicle.

He was reffering to Muhyiddin Yassin, the UMNO No.2 and also the Deputy Prime Minister. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had challenged Najib in 2009 UMNO party polls, but lost, albeit with dignity. Ku Li is expected to make one last charge.
But what has led to Najib's sudden and violent downspiral. A check around will yield responses such as too much double-speak, pie-in-the-sky economic programmes, fear of the UMNO right-wing, not enough gumption to lead and strike new frontiers. His mishandling of the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally for free and fair elections was the catalyst, and against the backdrop of a non-moving economy, Najib looks set to make an exit by 2012 at the latest.
Stagflation and not enough gumption
One of the strongest complaints has been the slow pace of Najib's various economic plans, which have pushed Malaysia into a lethal situation of low growth and high inflation. The Consumer Price Index, which hit a two-year peak of three per cent in March, has continued to rise - hitting 3.5 per cent in June as the government increased fuel, electricity and sugar prices to prevent the subsidy bill from doubling to RM21 billion.
“Najib is proving to be the lamest prime minister in Malaysia’s history... a weak leader with no political conviction and neither political will nor political courage when he refused to defend his 1 Malaysia policy as defined in the Government Transformation Plan policy document,” said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.
Pua was referring to Najib refusal to answer directly the question posed at the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit.
A student had asked Najib whether he was prepared to state that he was Malaysian first and what he thought of his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin’s infamous remark of being “Malay first and Malaysian second.”
Najib did not answer the question directed at him, insisting instead that “1 Malaysia is our guiding philosophy. It does not matter what you say, just as long as you follow.”
With a leader so unwilling to defend his own “1Malaysia” slogan, what more can we expect if he was to defend free and fair elections?
Trying to play Good Guy again
Pundits are now confident that the GE-13 will be held before the end of this year, which means it could be as early as October or November before the UMNO General Assembly and after the 2012 budget presentation. Elections have to happen soon and this was a fact Muhyiddin Yassin was not shy about when he told BN lawmakers to get ready.
With his credibility in tatters and his popularity rating hitting an all-time low, Najib is now trying to soften his stance. He wants to play 'good guy' again and continues to try and charm voters back into his camp. One such move was releasing the six PSM members held under the Emergency Ordinance in the runup to the controversial and landmark July 9 Bersih rally for free and fair elections.
“It was his greatest failure of leadership as Prime Minister leaving his credibility in tatters — which is why his claim yesterday that the release of the PSM6 under the Emergency Ordinance was in accordance with the rule of law was met with nation-wide derision. Najib cannot be more wrong if he thinks that he had restored his credibility with the release of the PSM6 yesterday,” said DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang in a statement on Saturday.
Kit Siang also listed down four acts that Najib needed to perform in order to restore his credibility, i.e. make Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar tender a public apology to the six PSM members; repeal the EO as well as all oppressive laws; lift the ban on Bersih 2.0 and end the government’s persecution of people wearing yellow T-shirts; and set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry on free and fair elections.
In addition to that, Kit Siang also told Najib to take “firm action” against Utusan Malaysia for carrying out “insidious and seditious” articles to incite ethnic hatred and religious tensions in the country.
Currying favour 
Indeed, Najib's inability to control the racist overtones of Malay rights group Perkasa and Utusan Malaysia has shattered his once proud 1Malaysia slogan, and eroded support from the Chinese and Indians.
The Chinese have deserted him en masse and he is now left to curry favour with the Indian community. The Indians have always been a strong supporter of the ruling coalition but forsook it in Election 2008 after the government cracked down on the November 2007 Hindraf rally, where 30,000 Indians marched for better economic, educational and social opportunities.
Over the weekend, Najib announced Palanivel’s appointment, bringing the Cabinet to 30 ministers despite earlier promises not to repeat his predecessor's bloated Cabinet of 32 ministers. “There must be an understanding. Can you all deliver for Barisan Nasional? You can deliver and we will deliver,” Najib told delegates at the 65th MIC general assembly.
But as experts have pointed out these are just remedial steps to give the MIC more power to help the Indian community. But it may not translate automatically into more votes, analysts said.
Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian said Palanivel’s elevation to a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department would add to the promise of MIC but stressed that much depended on how the first-term party president used his new position. “It’s a double-edged sword. If Palanivel’s given a post that takes time for him to deliver, it may end up backfiring.”
Too many expensive trips
So maybe Najib is really his own greatest enemy, always opting for the short-cuts and half-measures that do not require too much of his efforts and keep him away from his non-stop overseas trips.
A politician who had everyone fooled with his early sweet talk. But as they say, you can fool some people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time. Small wonder that many now see him as UMNO's and BN’s greatest liability going into GE-13.
Soon, and like the 5th prime minister Abdullah Badawi, Najib may be toppled by the very same people who once helped him to oust his predecessor. And after only three years in office. That then is Najib’s legacy as prime minister of Malaysia.

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